Willy Aybar

Win Values are here! See the post below. Woo!

If I asked you to name one guy who doesn’t currently have a starting job in major league baseball (or will get one after he signs his new contract) but deserved one, who would you say?

I’d say there’s one guy who stands out from the pack, and that guy is Willy Aybar.

From 2005 to 2008, in his age 22 to 25 seasons, Aybar has accumulated 745 plate appearances, or a little more than one full season’s worth of playing time. His career wOBA is .339, thanks to a good contact/gap power skillset, making him an above average major league hitter. 2008 was his worst year from a raw statistics perspective, with his .321 wOBA and -0.18 WPA/LI. However, he was remarkably unlucky in terms of batting average on balls in play – a .267 BABIP that simply wasn’t supported by how he hit the ball. Chris Dutton’s BABIP predictor had Aybar’s 2008 expected batting average on balls in play to come in at .314. Had the distribution of his balls in play been normal, Aybar would have hit something like .289/.363/.460. He improved offensively in 2008, even if the results don’t show it.

Defensively, he’s played mostly third, but also some second and first, and UZR has him above average at all three positions. As a +2 third baseman over 1,000 innings, it’d be fair to suggest that he could be solid defensively there, and he potentially could handle second base. He’s done well at the keystone in limited time, and as we explored earlier, most third baseman who also play second don’t see a drop in performance when shifting from one spot to the other.

In terms of total value (now available on the player pages), Aybar has been worth +3.8 wins over a replacement level player in his major league career. That works out to +3 wins per 600 PA. And remember, that doesn’t account for his rotten BABIP luck last year.

Right now, Aybar’s probably a true talent +2.5 to +3.0 win player with upside – a 26-year-old switch hitting infielder who can play multiple positions and has untapped offensive abilities, but doesn’t have to improve at all to already be above average.

The Rays don’t have any room for him in their line-up, and it wouldn’t be surprising if they kept him around as injury insurance. However, Willy Aybar deserves a full time job, and hopefully he gets one.

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Dave is a co-founder of USSMariner.com and contributes to the Wall Street Journal.

14 Responses to “Willy Aybar”

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  1. Jake says:

    Willy Aybar has ALOT of talent, I was pretty upset when my team, the Braves, traded him for Jeff Ridgeway this past offseason. He’ll make a good starter at 2B/3B for someone.

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  2. I’m hopeful he gets a shot at second base.

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  3. mymrbig says:

    Good stuff. You need a catchy name to this article and should make it a series where you look at players that are probably undervalued but are not free agents.

    My suggestions: Matt Diaz (worth $12.3 million in 2007 in only 384 PA) , Luke Scott (who’s value has gone down as his PA have gone up), Willie Harris (apparently worth $15.4 million last year!), Randy Winn (worth average of $18 million over the last 2 years), Adrian Beltre (even though he is signed to the worst contract in the history of sports), and Albert Pujols (who should apparently be earning $30-40 million a year). Plenty of other good names out there.

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    • mymrbig says:

      Scott Hairston, David Dejesus, and Mark DeRosa are a few other names that jump out at me.

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      • Hal says:

        You’re not kidding about DeJesus. His first two years of free agency have been valued at about a third of what he’s actually worth. And DeRosa, damn. He got paid $7.5 million the last two years to add $32 million in value, although you can’t fault a team for not wanting to break the bank on a 31 year old coming off his first full season.

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  4. seamariners85 says:

    Just curious why you think Beltre’s contract is the ‘worst in the history of sports?’ Worse than player’s that were injured 80-90% of their contract (Pavano, Schmidt, Hampton)?

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  5. snepp says:

    I’m pretty sure he was being facetious, considering he included him in a list of “undervalued” players.

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  6. Clonod says:

    Isn’t is kind of incongruous to suggest that the ability to play multiple positions makes one deserving of a full-time job?

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  7. RPC says:

    jumped on the Willy Aybar train. He is one of the best all round baseball players, except speed. And he has baseball smarts.

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  8. Rory says:

    So how would Aki stack-up to Aybar when viewed through the same lens? Aybar is obviously not going to supplant Longoria, but should he be starting instead of Aki? I suspect that Aybar is a better hitter, with more power and an inferior fielder than Aki but would love to see his similar numbers.

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  9. Jason T says:

    Well, I’m going to call him Admiral “It’s a trap!!” Aybar from here on out.

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  10. R Witt says:

    Thanks for going with facetious. Now I will not have to look up snarky…..

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  11. JBII says:

    Aybar’s been held back by off field issues not his talent.

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